In the history of wrestling in Missouri just one female has ever climbed onto the podium at the MSHSAA State Wrestling Championships.
Randi Beltz of St. Clair earned two medals and was a three-time qualifier for the state tournament, finishing fifth as a freshman wresting at 103 in 2006 and third as a senior at 119 in 2009 in Class 2.
Now more girls will get the opportunity to compete at state as Missouri became the ninth state to add girls wrestling as a standalone sport. Some details are still in the works but the state tournament will be wrestled at the same time as the boys in February.
Locally, Platte County has never had a female athlete crack the varsity lineup for the Pirates. A girl has qualified for state just 21 times in state meet history.
“Had some girls come out but never made varsity,” Platte County coach Reggie Burress said. “I think it will help to wrestle the same gender, feel better about it and more positive outcomes. I’m excited that they will have the opportunity to enjoy the sport we all love. It gives another alternative, if you’re not doing basketball or swimming it’s a good chance to come out and try something new. It’s a sport that can last a lifetime not just right now.”
The state will still need to decide how many weight classes and where the breaks in weights are for the girls who come out. At first, there will be one class and two districts, one on the west side of the state and one on the east. The top four finishers at each district will advance to an eight-woman bracket at state.
Platte County will hold joint boys and girls practice and all coaches will coach both boys and girls.
A schedule will be formulated once schools make final decisions on if they will have a team.
“There’s nothing for sure right now,” Burress said. “I know we will get them in some tournaments to get them some exposure and as far as duals go we will have to see. I can see a situation when we wrestle Kearney or something that we would wrestle a girls dual in between JV and varsity.”
Burress said about a dozen girls came to a meeting before the end of the school year and he hopes more will come out when school returns.
“Wrestling is a great opportunity for college scholarships,” Burress said. “There are more and more colleges adding teams and it’s a great way to go to college.”
Currently Hawaii, Texas, California, Washington, Tennessee, Alaska, Georgia, Oregon and most recently Arizona have separate girls’ seasons. Colorado has announced two pilot seasons before officially adding the sport in 2020.
The proposal passed in Missouri with 202 votes to 41 against in the annual MSHSAA election on by-law changes held each May.